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Saluting women in the electrical industry

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Jason Courtepatte is a young Métis entrepreneur who is changing the way the electrical industry views women in the Edmonton area. Courtepatte, the owner of Kite Electric, prides himself in operating a diverse and equal-opportunity electrical and solar company. 

Since founding Kite Electric in 2016, PEC Certified Master Electrician Courtepatte ensures that Kite’s operations are inclusive for all, including individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous persons, and people of all genders. 

While traditionally, the electrical trade has been male-dominated, more women are taking the plunge and getting involved in the trades, and Courtepatte is happy to encourage this diversity within the field.

“Every member and customer of Kite Electric is considered to be on the same plane. From our starter apprentices to the company ownership, every individual is entitled to the same level of dignity and compassion. An open-door policy (at Kite) is in place to encourage this,” says Courtepatte. 

Jason Courtepatte, owner of Kite Electric

Courtepatte goes on to say, “Kite Electric was built upon the idea that no one can go it alone successfully. We must surround ourselves with a circle of peers or a team to truly be successful. Every member of Kite Electric relies on each other to promote our company values and pursue our mission.”

While speaking with Courtepatte, it truly is no mystery why he holds his values close to his heart. For Courtepatte, Kite was founded on the belief that electrical contracting can be practiced in an ethical, moral, and inclusive manner, and one can tell he believes in what he puts forward to the public, and the women Jason employs seem to agree.

Andrea Rand, an electrical contractor, employed with Kite Electric, says, “As a woman that has been in the electrical trade for 20 years, I’ve seen a lot of change from when I first started. Women definitely bring a finesse to the trade that is often hard to teach, along with attention to detail. Kite has by far been my favourite employer. Jason trusts my opinion and listens to what I have to say. I feel valued and respected every day at work, which hasn’t always been the case.” 

“Jason not only supports (women) through fair wage and equal opportunity employment but also in fostering cooperative relationships with other companies. Jason’s willingness to answer any question and share his wealth of knowledge as both a master electrician and a contractor is (of) immeasurable support to me, a new female business owner,” Cherillyn Porter, owner of She’s Electric Inc., said.

A member in good standing with the Alberta LBGTQ+ chamber of commerce, and ally for those in the community, Courtepatte knows the importance of supporting those who may not otherwise find opportunities in this male-dominated trade and looks to team up with organizations that can help him do exactly that.

One such organization, Women Building Futures (WBF) in Edmonton, works with organizations like Kite Electric to help train, house, and find employment for women -including Indigenous women- interested in starting a career in the trades. 

In addition, WBF helps to remove the barriers women face surrounding employment and offers many different programs such as Journeywomen start (which includes electrical), Class 1 driving, heavy equipment operating, driver & operator, and power engineering.

WBF runs four to five Journeywoman start classes per year, with class sizes typically accommodating under 20 students per term. These smaller class sizes allow students interested in the trades to experience more one-on-one learning opportunities, and many students further advance their education to electrical Journeywomen training at one of the province’s trade schools.

For organizations such as WBF, diversity and acceptance of women in the trades are important, and WBF helps give women the skills necessary to succeed.

Brittany Nugent, communications manager for Women Building Futures, offers advice for employers looking for new tradespeople. “Creating a welcoming and accepting workplace is critical to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. There is an incredible quote by diversity and inclusion champion Vernā Myers, ‘diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being invited to dance,” says Nugent. “Our goal is to support women in their journey to economic security by connecting them with employers who are invested in making positive change.”

Motivated to see more women in the electrical trade, Courtepatte continues to encourage others interested in the industry by ensuring that Kite is inclusive and diverse in its hiring and daily operations. “Growth comes from change, and we are dedicated to working toward healthy and sustainable change in the electrical industry.”

Feature image: Kite Electric contractors Andrea and Kirsten. Photos courtesy of Kite Electric.

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